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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Tony Evans » Tony Evans - My Father's Legacy

Tony Evans - My Father's Legacy

Tony Evans - My Father's Legacy
TOPICS: Father's Day, Legacy

In a race no matter how fast you run, it's all about, in a relay, how well you pass the baton. When it comes to legacy, we're talking about what we pass on to the next generation based on what we've become and what we've received. And as God developed this worldview called The Kingdom Agenda, the visible demonstration of the comprehensive rule of God of every area of life, I saw this lived out and there's a story with it. So I'd like to walk through this Psalm, but now give it a personal story. I've told you bits and pieces throughout the years about growing up in Baltimore and my father, but I would like to lay it against the template of this Psalm because I think it will encourage all of us to pursue a legacy. No matter where you are right now and where you're starting from to take the rest of your days and pass the baton.

It was August 12, 1929 and my dad was born to Arthur and Beatrice Evans in Baltimore, Maryland. My grandfather, his father, attended Perkins Square Baptist Church where he was a musician and led the choir. So my father grew up around church and grew up around music. As he became a teenager, one day he was playing football on the street and he saw this girl sitting on the steps and he went to mackin'. He saw my mom sitting on the steps and began a conversation leading to a romance that led to marriage. As they began to have a family, my father was a longshoreman. He was a stevedore, unloading and loading ships that would come into Baltimore Harbor. They called them "gangs". You were part of a gang, or a group of men that would be called upon to load and unload boats based on the need.

So many days, sometimes months, he didn't have work because either ships weren't coming in, there weren't enough ships for his gang. And so what my father did was he went down to the basement and he developed this thing of repairing things. All the old televisions and the radios, things he would just do for neighbors to try to earn some extra income so we could make it. One of the things he also made in the basement was brandy, so he could sell to the neighbors. And if none of that worked, he would go fishing and of course you heard my herring story and the reason I don't eat fish today. So he would do whatever he could to make ends meet as best he could. When he was 30 years old, our world changed. My mother was invited by a friend of hers to a church, small little church in Baltimore. And my mother told my father, "Well, I'll go if you go".

So he agreed to go to this little church with my mother. After the service, two men came to my father and asked him, did he know where he was going to spend eternity if he died? And my father couldn't answer that question. Now, he had been in church all of his life, been in music, but he wasn't sure of his eternal destiny. So these two men shared the gospel with my father and told him that Christ came and died on the cross for his sins, and rose from the dead to give him salvation, and if he would put his faith in Christ, he would be forgiven and given eternal life. My father never understood that before, even though he grew up in church which tells us, you can grow up in church and not be saved. So he was religious but he wasn't saved. And on that day, he heard the gospel in its clearest form for the first time in his life at 30 years old.

As my father told me the story, he went home, went down to the basement where his little workshop was, and he got on his knees. And he said, "Lord Jesus, I'm a sinner and I need a Savior and I wanna invite you into my life to be my personal Savior, to forgive my sins and to give me eternal life". And on that day, at 30 years old, I'm 10 or 11 at that time, my father became a Christian and was born again. Verse 1 of Psalm 128 says, "Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord and walks in his ways! He shall enjoy the fruit of his labor and it will go well with him and he will be happy".

My father became radically saved. Some people get kinda saved. He didn't get kinda saved, he got crazy saved 'cause he went wild over this good news of Jesus Christ. Everything became about Jesus Christ as he, verse 1, "Feared the Lord". Meaning he took God serious, this wasn't a play thing, this was no longer a God for benedictions and invocations, or a slot machine for a blessing, this was somebody who would rule his life so he immediately went from salvation into discipleship. He wanted to be consumed by this new relationship he had with Jesus Christ. As a result of that, everything became about Jesus in his life and in his environment. But his favorite phrase would be "According to the scripture," "according to the scripture," "according to the scripture". He would tell somebody to do something then he would say, "According to the scripture". If he was correcting you, it would be according to the scripture.

Little did I know that that phrase would put a stamp on my mind, that things had to be done according to the scripture. And so this thing of taking God serious, fearing God according to the scripture. So he would go find out what the scripture said, and he would immediately set in motion systems, to do what the Bible said do in honor of the Lord Jesus Christ who had saved him. Everybody began to notice something is different about Arthur Evans. He's not the man that we used to see. He was certainly not the father that I used to know. As we saw this life radically change in front of our eyes. That led to verse 3 of Psalm 128. Says, "Your wife shall become a fruitful vine within your house, and your children will become olive plants around your table".

You have to understand my mother. Tumama as she was known, after years of marriage, didn't like my father as a sinner but she couldn't stand him as a saint. She wanted to know, who in the world is this man showing up in my house 'cause I don't recognize him? You could see him praying, you could see him reading his Bible at night, you could see him bringing God's Word, Jesus Christ was showing up everywhere and she hated it. She would fuss at him, cuss at him, threaten to leave. In spite of the hard time, he said, "It's in the hands of the Lord. All I know is according to the scripture, I can't go nowhere". It would just be according to the scripture.

So he would just take what he had to take, do the best he could, and after my mother would go to sleep, he would go down to the dining room, he would drop on his knees and many times I could hear the voice while I'm up in my bed of him crying out to God for his family, for our need, for funds. He'd be crying out to God then he would read his Bible. He would tend to only read it at night because that was the safe time to read it, so that my mother wouldn't create a scene. Six months after he got saved and after six months of just hell, about midnight, my mother came down the steps and he thought, "Boy, here's another conflict". But this night she came crying.

She was crying. And my mother, when she was living, rehearsed this to me on a number of occasions, she came crying. He asked her, "What's wrong"? And she said, "I don't know what's gotten into you. I have done everything I know to get rid of this thing, but the more I hate you, the more you love me, the more I reject you, the more you accept me, the more I make it hard for you, you making it easier for me. So whatever this thing you have must be real; how can I have it too"? So that night, my father got on his knees with my mother and she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior.

So for you men who wanna run away, for you men who wanna quit because the going gets tough, when you take a sledge hammer against a concrete wall, a lot of the cracks happen on the inside before you ever see 'em worked out on the outside. Make sure you hammering this thing with heaven before you give up on earth. Because little did my father know that his consistency was creating a crack in her soul, which would ultimately draw her to the Savior. So now, rather than being my father's enemy, she became my father's support. You would hear her say, "According to the scripture". He would sit down and have Bible studies with her. And now rather than sending us to church, we go to church because it was a family affair. Verse 3 says, "And your children shall be olive plants around your table".

It takes 15 years for an olive plant to become an olive tree but if you nurture it right, it'll produce olives for 2,000 years. Over in Israel that 2,000 year old olive tree is still pumping out olives 'cause their roots run deep. And so when we gathered around and mom cooked the meals, and did with whatever we had in the house at that time, my father would sit at the table and he would either open up the meal with the Word of God and prayer, or close the meal after we prayed for the meal with the Word of God. In other words, you kept running into the Word of God whenever you were in my house whether you wanted it or not. It was like a pinball machine.

You got sick and tired of hearing, "According to the scripture". But if you were gonna be in my father's house, he was gonna make sure you got as much of God's Word in you as he could put in you, so that when you were no longer with him, you could run from him but you couldn't run from God's Word. And that's why parents, you wanna make sure that you give your kids the scriptures, give your kids the Word, because some of you are only in here today 'cause of what grandmamma or mama put in you that you tried to run from in college, but like a bungee cord, it pulled you right back. And so we were taken to church and we would surround the table, with that love and care came a lot of discipline.

My father set the rules for our house. There's no drinking in this house, there's no smoking in this house, there's no profanity in this house. I don't even know that I thought about my dad when I made those rules for my house. There's no profanity, there's no drinking, there's no smoking. He set the rules and another thing there's not, bringing home what your friends think that disagrees with what the Word says. The moment you brought home something that your teacher said, or that your friend said, that didn't agree with the Word of God, he would take the Bible and say "According to the scripture". And so you couldn't run from it.

So he learned to fear the Lord and that brought favor to our family. It brought order to our home. It brought us wanting to be home with mother and father. It brought us wanting to fix things that were showing up wrong in our lives. I remember at 17, when I had a little bit more freedom and I could use the car and go, and he would say to me two things; he would say, "Tony, I'm gonna let you go out; you have to be home by 11 but I need you to remember two things; number one, when you leave this house, you carry the name Evans. Number two, when you leave this house, you carry the Lord Jesus Christ".

We were bombarded with his fear of God and his centrality of the family and fighting for it whatever it took. There would be no thought like men today of walking away, quitting, abandoning children, leaving women to be single mothers because according to the scripture, you were responsible unto God for your family, you are not allowed to think another way.

Verse 5 says, "The Lord bless you from Zion". Here Zion was the temple. It was where a father took his family to worship Yahweh. It was Zion, it was the place of worship. When it came to our home, no kid had a vote about whether you were gonna go to church. He never asked me, "Do you feel like going to church today"? So church became a way of life. If his gang was called and he had to work, he would find somebody to pick us up from church and he challenged me, even though it was a one hour walk to church, if the weather was good, he said, "Tony, you're the oldest. If I can't go and we can't get anybody to pick you up, you go".

And I learned to walk one hour to church because he built that thing in me, God is worth the inconvenience. Little did I know back then that his love for church would lead to this church, because he left a legacy that I had no idea of at the time. So he learned to fear God and he didn't keep it quiet he brought it home. My mother saw it and got converted and became his helper. The children saw it and were never able to escape from it.

And then it says at the end of verse 5 and 6, "May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life! May you see your children's children! Peace be upon Israel"! Not only did he fear God, not only did he bring it home, not only did he live it out with faithful commitment to the church, but he wasn't a secret agent Christian. He went public. He would take me on street corners to pass out gospel tracks. We would go out, me and my brother, we would go out on street corners and as people just pass by, "Hey, would you take this and read it? And by the way, do you know where you're gonna spend eternity"? And we would witness to people on the street.

Little did I know that that would instill in me spiritual boldness, to not be ashamed of what people are gonna say, or what people are gonna think, about my commitment to Jesus Christ. He didn't just go he took me with him. Fathers, men here, make sure you take your children with you. Don't just send them, let them feel the experience. Then he went to prisons. He said, "Tony, let's go to the prisons". And he would go preach in the prisons and then asked me to say a word. And little did I know that he was putting something there over and over and over again. And then in the neighborhood, as the neighborhood moved and declined from a blue collar neighborhood in an urban setting, to more of an inner city neighborhood as time went on, you go there today and it's crack houses everywhere, it's boarded up everywhere.

As things began to decline, his light shined even more because everybody wanted to know why our house was different than everybody else's house in the neighborhood. Our family stayed together, everybody else is breaking up. Our family was unified. Everybody else is fighting, people fighting on the street and all this kinda crazy stuff. Nobody was getting drunk in our house, although people were getting drunk all around us. Something was different about our home. People would pass by and say, "Mr. Arthur, Mr. Arthur, how much we appreciate you". They were calling my father to help fix a car and when my father would help fix a car, my father would always bring in, "Yeah, Jesus Christ, told me to come help you today".

We live in a day when too many people who attend church are ashamed of Jesus Christ. How can you be ashamed of somebody who's given you eternal life? He was not ashamed of the gospel and he let it be known. He went into the nursing home, and when he went into the nursing home, I went there six weeks later and he got a Bible study going on with the nurses. He got a Bible study going on with the nurses and the help, because he wants them to know the gospel and he wants them to hear life according to the scripture. And even though he couldn't walk, even though he couldn't walk on his own, we had a lady up in Baltimore he says, "You get me to church. On Sunday I won't leave this place but you must get me to church".

And so all the way till the end on the Sunday before he passed away, the lady who takes him to church, they told me, he said, "Please take me home to our home in Baltimore". He said, "I'd like to see it one more time". He didn't know the next week he would be gone and they had to help him up the steps so he could get into the house. She said he walked in the house, he looked around, the house where I was raised, I grew up in. And he said, "That's enough". He walked out, and from that day on, he began his decline. It says, "You'll see your children's children". It's your grandchildren.

In March of this year, when school was out for the spring break, we decided since we didn't know how much long he had, he would be 90 in August. We said, "Let's all go up everybody: children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren and let's just give him a birthday now 'cause we don't wanna test, we don't wanna take a chance to wait till August. Just let him know what he meant and means to our family. He was a man who feared God, who fought for his family, was faithful to his church and who was a public witness for Jesus Christ".

God has called us all to leave a legacy. You can't change yesterday, but begin to build your legacy where you are, so that you have something to leave behind. Repent for sins that may have messed your legacy up. God has given us that as our option to repent and to say, "God from this point on, from this point on, help me to build a legacy by fearing you, by being responsible to my family, by being committed to my local church, and by being a testimony so that when I have my children, my children's children and my children's children's children, they can tell the story, of what it meant to follow Christ".

Every book, every tape, every radio broadcast, every sermon here, comes because that man rubbed off on us. And if you were to go in my house, he put this on the wall right by the piano, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord". He let it be known if you came to his house, that's what you were gonna find. May that be the sentiment of all of us moving forward.
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